The first fuel cell was created by Sir William Robert Grove, a Welsh scientist and barrister in 1839. Through mixing hydrogen and oxygen in the presence of an electrolyte, he produced electricity and water.
In 1938 Christian F. Shoenbein, a German Swiss scientist, built on the work that Grove had done and managed to create the first observed fuel cell effect.
Over 20 years later, the first practical fuel cell applications happened in the U.S. space program. In the early 1960s, General Electric developed the first polymer membrane fuel cells which were then used in the Gemini Program. The Apollo Program then followed by using the fuel cells to generate electricity for life support, guidance and communications.